Eagles Training Camp Battle: Jalen Reagor v. Zach Pascal

Training camp is right around the corner which means Eagles football is almost here. Like most of you, my excitement for the season cannot be contained for much longer.

Since the team opted to not hold minicamp this offseason, training camp will be the first time we see the entire team take the field together. All eyes will be on Jalen Hurts as he strives to become the Eagles franchise quarterback moving forward. But, there are also several interesting camp battles primed to take center stage once practice rolls around.

Here we’ll focus on the wide receiver position, specifically with the fourth spot on the depth chart.

The top trio of starting wideouts is already set in stone for the Birds. A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Quez Watkins will see the majority of playing time out wide. The depth chart behind them is still very much up in the air.

Newly acquired Zach Pascal feels like the front runner for the fourth wide receiver spot right now. He’s a Nick Sirianni guy after playing under him in Indianapolis and he brings a veteran presence to the wide receiver room.

During him time in Indy, Pascal was a reliable receiver for the most part. From 2019 to 2020, Pascal totaled 85 receptions for 1,236 yards and 10 touchdowns. His highest Pro Football Focus grade to date came in 2019, when Pascal posted a 73.7 overall mark for the season.

His production tapered off a bit last season, recording 38 catches for 384 yards and 3 touchdowns; all of which were the lowest marks since his rookie season in 2018. PFF wasn’t too kind to Pascal last year either, handing him an overall grade of 52.7, second-worst out of 115 qualifying receivers.

Pascal brings some much needed physicality to the Eagles’ wide receiver position. He’s a tremendous open field blocker and is pretty solid in contested catch situations. In 2020, Pascal hauled in 46.7% of his contested catch opportunities, higher than every receiver on the Eagles roster last season outside of Quez Watkins (53.3 contested catch percentage).

Pascal’s veteran status and reliability in the running game may give him the slight edge over Jalen Reagor entering camp, but we can’t rule out a possible resurgent year from the former first-round pick.

Most fans have already sold their stock on Reagor and understandably so. He’s underperformed dramatically throughout his first two NFL seasons, but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for the kid. He clearly has the talent to be a productive wideout in the NFL, he’s just failed to put it all together.

Now that Reagor is somewhat buried on the depth chart and won’t have nearly as much pressure as he did last season, it should allow the coaching staff to put Reagor in positions that fit his skill set.

If both wideouts give so-so performances during camp, Pascal will likely get the nod by default. But if Reagor comes in and puts on a show, he could position himself to have a solid role within Sirianni’s offense this season.

For those who have their doubts about Reagor ever becoming an above average NFL wide receiver, just remember how Nelson Agholor developed. His numbers were very similar to Reagor’s throughout his first two NFL seasons. You could argue that Agholor was actually worse. From 2015 to 2016, Agholor posted an overall PFF grade of 50.6, while Reagor has recorded a 60.1 grade. Agholor had a total of 11 drops in his first two NFL seasons with a drop percentage of 15.6%. Reagor has only totaled 5 drops in his career and has a drop percentage of 6.95%.

Both Reagor and Agholor have similar skill sets and their career trajectories are eerily comparable. Don’t sleep on a potential breakout year from Reagor this season. Just remember that you heard it here first.

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